Your book takes a deep dive into campus sexual assault and rape. What drew you to this topic and how did you know this would be bigger than just a long- form feature for a publication?
I come from a progressive family and graduated from Wesleyan in the 1990s, back when the school’s nickname was “PCU.” Through a series of random events, I landed a job at New York magazine. The editor had just run a cover with Anna Nicole Smith called “White Trash Nation,” and another with Sharon Stone that said “Can She Make AIDS Hot Again?” I was so appalled and shocked. And I became fascinated by this world that I didn’t understand, particularly low culture and the Girls Gone Wild- hypersexualization of women.
Several years ago, I noticed that the writing in mainstream women’s blogs and magazines began to change. The rhetoric of “social justice warriors” began to match theories from the 1990s. I particularly saw that college sexual assault was being talked about in the way that we used to talk about it as Wesleyan. As these ideas spread, I realized that we were on the cusp of an amazing moment in American culture. What was dismissed as freakish and marginal in 1995 was going to take its place in the mainstream in 2015 and stand solidly with two feet. People were going to reckon with the female experience of not only sex but sexual assault.